Plane Crash in Ventanilla Mexico
VENTANILLA, Mexico- The wing of a plane rose as an ominous monument in the distance down Ventanilla beach on the Oaxaca coast of Mexico. Plane crashes often leave more behind than parts and rubbish: they leave stories. This is perhaps for no other reason than plane wrecks often happen in remote areas and are seldom cleaned up — leaving a surreal tomb of modern technology in otherwise natural landscapes. Plane crashes are also undeniable testaments to human drama, they say, “something happened here.”
I took on this eerie feeling — the same sort of feeling that I have felt as an archaeologist immediately prior to pulling the cap stone off of an ancient burial — as I walked down the beach towards the wrecked plane. As I look out into the distance, the wing of the plane rose out of the sand, completely out of place in the otherwise empty, virtually deserted, and pristine beach — provoking inquiry, rumor, and leaving a mini-legend for each beach comber who passes to construct for themselves.
I walked up to the wreck. The tail of the plane laid around forty meters from the head and wings, both parts sat idle in the tropical sun as the processes of natural erosion continued their work. The tail was riddled with small caliber bullet holes — more than likely a posthumous addition. The waves broke over the cockpit and wings of the small plane, and water rushed in and out of it in regular succession. Half of the front part of the plane laid buried in the sand, the other half stood erect out of the beach. It sat patiently as the waves beat upon it each day since it crashed over six years ago.
“Whoever got over there got enough to smoke for two years,” a long time Zipolite hotel owner told me after I questioned him about the Ventanilla plane crash. “It was definitely full of marijuana,” he added.
“Was it shot down by the Mexican military?” I questioned, siting a few rumors I had heard.
“No, they don’t have that kind of infrastructure here,” he replied with a laugh, “By the time they arrived even the gauges were already gone.”
He went on to tell me that it was a narco plane that had crashed into the beach while making a delivery. The long, flat, and uninterrupted beach at Ventanilla is the perfect natural airstrip and often served as a landing place for aircraft involved in the drug trade. The hotel owner then stated that the narcos rushed to the scene after the crash, filled up a pickup truck with all the drugs they could recover, and then quickly split.
“But they didn’t get everything,” he added,”When you have a truck full of marijuana, you don’t go back.”
He then implied that the locals extensively surveyed the area, and came away with backpacks full of contraband. But I have heard rumors from other people that the narcos did return to the center of the crash to search for their remaining stash, and essentially put the town of Ventanilla on lock down for a few days — though these rumors stand unsubstantiated, the people who live near the site of the crash were more than a little vague in telling me what had happened.
“That was a long time ago,” the hotel owner dismissed the current relevance of the crash.
Now the plane wreck stands as an onimous sort of blemish on the otherwise smooth, clean, and placid beach of Ventanilla. It is now something for visitors to walk to, listen to rumors about, and to be reminded once again that there is often a flip side to paradise.